January 25, 2020
Medical School Applications
It is an unfortunate reality that students applying to medical school often miss out on valuable admissions points by incompletely describing their awards and scholarships. Read on to learn how to maximize each award entry, with examples from successful applications.
I won the John Carling Fraser Memorial Scholarship
So what? Without providing any more information, this applicant leaves a lot of questions unanswered. What is this scholarship recognizing? What was the scale of competition? Accordingly, admissions will not be able to properly assess the significance of this award and the applicant will not receive many points for this entry. Let’s try again…
John Carling Fraser Memorial Scholarship
This scholarship was established to encourage students to pursue both academic excellence and community service. Two scholarships are awarded to 3rd or 4th year University of Victoria students with a declared major in Biology, Microbiology or Biochemistry. Preference is given to students active in volunteer work with youth groups in the community.
Simply by copying and pasting the official award description, admissions can now better appreciate the significance of this award.
Once you have answered the award scale and criteria, you may wish to make your descriptions more personalized by answering “Why did this particular applicant win the scholarship?” For instance:
Helen White Scholarship
This award is presented to one graduating student in School District 63 who has excelled in at least one course in Applied Skills at the grade 12 level and demonstrates good school citizenship, hard work ethic, responsibility and leadership by action or example. I was recognized for my achievement in Woodshop and Mechanics courses, and in planning 3 school-wide events as part of student council.
Wait… I can include High School Awards?
Often the answer is yes! Some schools (e.g. UBC) count awards received since Grade 11. Make sure to review the application guide for each institution to which you are applying so you know to include significant awards from high school if permitted, or not waste an entry by including them if they are not counted.
While this is controversial, including the value of scholarships can further help admissions understand the award’s significance. For renewable scholarships, be sure to state the criteria under which they are renewed. For example:
This scholarship is awarded to 25 academically outstanding students entering undergraduate programs at McGill from secondary schools in Canada. This $3,000 scholarship is renewable annually if a minimum grade point average of 3.7/4.0 is maintained and the recipient meets the course load requirements of a fulltime student. I have renewed this scholarship for all four years of my undergraduate degree.
In conclusion, ensure each award description includes the scale (one per school, ten awarded provincially, etc.), what the award is recognizing, and any specific criteria. Also briefly describe why you won the award and state the value if desired. As with writing activity descriptions (see our blog here), the goal is to give admissions staff a clear understanding of each achievement’s significance so that they can assign points appropriately.
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